The gist of author Michael Lewis‘s “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” is that the ’08 meltdown — the destruction of $1.76 trillion in subprime mortgage market holdings — was basically driven by “mass delusion,” says a HuffPost summary.

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“The incentives for people on Wall Street got so screwed up…because their short term interests were so overpowering,” Lewis told 60 Minutes (or somebody else). “And so they behaved in ways that were antithetical to their own long term interests.”

In other words, they got drunk and crashed the family car and totalled it — blood and screams and shards of glass all over the pavement. These guys committed acts that were far more menacing and destructive than the Chicago gangsters and desperado hold-up men of the 1920s and ’30s. Much worse than anything Pablo Escobar ever did. And most of America is just…oh, well, whatever. I’ll wager that the followers of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman are mainly thinking, “If we play our cards right, maybe we can be the ones to fleece the country and make out like bandits…next time!”